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Sarah, Awareness Still
Sarah: Thanks, Christian! I’ll watch it during a break today. It’s so curious to me that thoughts are separate. It’s interesting because most all of my experiences have involved the ability to have/observe thought, so maybe it’s a metaphysical journey of the ego I’ve encountered. I have no idea what it is.
Also, I was thinking about that illumination I experience in yoga during relaxation, and it’s a white/golden color. Is that actually not “me” as the ego-free being but just a chakra? Look at the attached pictures; are they right? Is it wisdom? Do you ever experience anything like that?
Christian: Sarah, let’s look at something you said: “most all of my experiences have involved the ability to have/observe thought.” To “have thought” means what? It means YOU have a thought. Look closely and you will see it is already your direct experience that the thought is different from you, which is even more evident if you use “observe” thought. Who observes the thought? Who has the thought? You do.
Look at the logic, not the thoughts that have programmed you to think a certain way.
If you observe your thoughts, it is impossible that you can be them.
They have to be other than you if you observe them.
The right way to do this is right here, in this moment, in this experience. Can you notice a thought right now? Any thought at all. Once you notice it, ask yourself what part of you notices the thought. It’s just the obvious, everyday awareness that you’re used to, but you’ve always thought that awareness is the mind. It’s not. It’s you knowing the mind, body, feelings and all things in the outside world.
This logic holds for every single thing you can ever be aware of. You can’t be it. You are the knower of it.
If you experience a white/golden light in yoga – don’t get lost in what you are observing – it has no actual value – the value lies in the fact that YOU are observing it.
So for the person, Sarah, the white light is nice. It clears her mind. It’s important to her. But you are the knower of her, the light, the calmness, all of it.
We have lived our lives attaching the awareness we are to all of the things we see, feel, experience. And so we think the experiences hold meaning and show us something about ourselves. They don’t. Stop looking at what you are aware of and start looking at who is the “me” that is aware of things.
That is the key.
It’s also important to know what it actually is, so you’re not endlessly looking around everywhere.
The you who notices all things is the simple, obvious, everyday awareness that you have always been.
You’ve always thought the awareness you are is the same thing as the mind.
Now you’re seeing, through logic and your own experience, that it can’t be. So who is the you?
It’s the same awareness you’ve always been, it’s just that now you have to take the time to study this “who” the me is that knows all things until you can see clearly for yourself that it is the same you that you’ve always thought it was – except it is totally separate from the mind, completely its own thing – knowing the mind and all other things.
Sarah: Hey, Christian. So I was thinking a bit about the experience I had in the workshop – by the way, it was a great class. During shavasina I never fell asleep, but close, maybe. I could hear only the “om”s and had to remind myself not to sleep. The mind was so still and actually quiet that if it’s not active it just sort of prepares for sleep. I brought myself up enough where I could hear you again giving breathing practice instructions along with the “om”s. For a little bit though, it was just me without the mind, in observance of only a select few things but mainly the “om”s, not a trance state, but a mindless one of awareness still. I think this is right on track with what you’ve been telling me. Have you had similar experiences?
Christian: Beautiful. You got it. You said, “For a little bit though, it was just me without the mind, in observance of only a select few things but mainly the ‘om’s, not a trance state, but a mindless one of awareness still.”
Yes, absolutely. That’s you: obvious, everyday awareness.
That is literally the you that is ever free, always peaceful, never changing. Now all you have to do is see that that experience is actually the background of every experience you ever have. It’s constant, and it’s totally obvious to you. It is the same awareness that is knowing how your mind is processing these words right here, right now.
You’ve experienced the value of yoga – that you can make the mind quiet enough, non-bothersome enough, to see what’s always there: the knowing you. It’s significant that you have identified what this awareness is that Vedanta says is you.
The important thing here is that you don’t let your mind trick you into thinking you have to get that experience back. The mind wants feel-good experiences, which come and go but never remain constant and are only relative to the person.
So the mind will tell you, over and over, to go back for that experience. It’s a diversion. Vedanta tells you to deeply contemplate the meaning of that experience. If you follow the mind and go for the experience again and again, you think you are the mind and you will continue to suffer the mind’s issues. If you go for the meaning of the experience, you establish that you are the knower of that mind and come to see that regardless of what the mind is going through – peace, frustration, desire, etc., etc. – you remain unchanged as the simple witnessing awareness you always are.
This is a perfect platform to understand how Vedanta/self-inquiry works. It has two parts.
1. Negation of what you are not.
2. Truth. You are that obvious awareness that is the knowing background, the witness, of all things. It’s just that you have been tricked into thinking you’re the person. What tricked you? The mind. Take the mind away, as in the yoga experience you had, and there you are: simple awareness not thinking it’s anything other than it really is, limitless knowing. So it’s only the mind that needs enlightenment. You’re good to go, always have been, always will be. Pure awareness.
The person’s experience is determined by the mind. If the mind directly knows about you – awareness, its source – then the person is called “enlightened.” Then, strange as it may sound, the mind/person continues to go through all its same silliness in this world, but part of that mind knows that it’s all an illusion and not to be worried about because it knows about you, awareness, the source of all happiness.
You’ve always just been awareness and have always been perfect. It’s just the mind that needs to catch up.
Negation and truth educate the mind where it is not thinking correctly.
1. Negation: the mind thinks it is the identity. The mind thinks it is you. So you logically show the mind how it cannot be you because it is being observed by you. The mind can catch this, and over time with constant attention the mind will get it. Use negation to prove to your mind that you cannot be anything you can observe, including the mind.
2. Truth is what you give the mind to fill the spaces created by successful negation. Here’s the one I used a lot: “I am whole, complete, unchanging, actionless, obvious, everyday awareness.” YOU know this is true, you just experienced it first-hand. The mind needs educating, it still hasn’t caught up.
To solidify this for you, let’s look at how you personally take the perspective of the mind/person – and you can then switch to taking the perspective of you, pure awareness:
“I brought myself up enough where I could hear you again giving breathing practice instructions along with the ‘om’s.”
This is taken from the perspective that you are the person/mind. You think you are “bringing yourself up enough.” But really, you are the never-changing awareness observing the person being engaged in the mind which is playing with your experience (bringing up).
“For a little bit though, it was just me without the mind, in observance of only a select few things but mainly the ‘om’s, not a trance state but a mindless one of awareness still.”
This is clearly from your true perspective. Simple awareness. The only thing you ever do is observe, witness, know, be aware of. This is clearly reflected in your statement “it was just me.”
Understand that enlightenment is only an identity issue, in the mind. The first speaker above, who thinks she is the person, is capable of suffering because she thinks she brings herself up and down in yoga and is pushed up and down in life. The second speaker is just you, “awareness still.” Never a sufferer, never a changer, never a doer, never even an enjoyer, just simply pure, eternal, never-changing now.